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Involved in an accident while driving for work? Here’s what you should know about damages and liability

Are you wondering what happens if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident whilst on the road in a company car? It depends on who was at fault, what you were using the car for when the accident occured, and what was covered in your contract with your employer.

This means before you accept the perk of a company car, you should sit down and carefully review the specifics of your contract and what it says about use of a company vehicle. There are responsibilities and rights on both sides when it comes to an employee driving a company-owned, registered and insured vehicle, and you’ll want to make sure everything is in order.

Employer responsibilities

Your employer should provide clear policies for company car use, addressing use both inside and outside of work hours. You should also receive access to up-to-date insurance and registration for the company car, as well as an up-to-date vehicle service logbook.

Finally, your employer should clearly lay out the policy and protocols for any motor vehicle accidents, breakdowns or other unforeseen events that could occur while you are behind the wheel of their vehicle, whether you are using it for personal reasons or driving for work.

Employee responsibilities

As an employee, your responsibilities while driving a company car include verifying when and how you can use the vehicle, including use outside of customary company hours or for non-work-related driving. Make sure you know when the company’s commercial auto insurance cover applies and if there are any situations in which it does not.

Read your company’s car policy carefully, always follow road rules and be responsible behind the wheel, and remember to report any service needs immediately. If you are involved in a car accident while driving a company car, make sure you let your employer know right away.

Is an employer liable for an employee’s car accident?

In most cases, an employer is considered a respondeat superior, meaning they have vicarious liability for their employee while their employee is driving a company car on company business. This liability may extend based on the terms of the contract between employer and employee regarding use of the vehicle and when the employer’s insurance cover applies.

Your employer’s insurance cover will typically be the target of a claim in the normal course of handling motor vehicle accidents when a company vehicle is involved. The insurance company will be paying for your employer’s “liability” for damage or injury caused involving a company vehicle.

Can you sue your employer for an accident while driving for work?

If it is shown that your employer improperly maintained the vehicle, and knew the car was unsafe, your employer might be vulnerable to claims directly for negligence. A personal injury lawyer can give you legal advice and help ascertain if you have a valid accident claim for any injury sustained.

If you are involved in an accident and injured while driving a company car for work purposes and/or during work hours, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. You can file a claim to recover costs related to personal injuries, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other costs, just like any injured worker.

Who pays if you’re in an accident in a company car?

In most cases, as long as you have abided by the car contract clause for use of the vehicle, your company will be liable for paying claims associated with a car crash that occurs when you are driving a company car.

There are a few cases that could void an employer’s responsibility and you can be held liable. These are:

  • If you break the contract clause by using the car at time or for use outside of your contract agreement.
  • If you drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • If you are a distracted driver or commit reckless acts behind the wheel.

 

It is advisable to carry additional cover if you are driving a company car.

What if an employee on the clock driving a work vehicle gets in an accident and is seriously injured?

If you are seriously injured behind the wheel of a company car due to an accident, and the contract is in force, the car counts as an extension of the workplace and you may be able to file for workers’ compensation, just as you would if you were injured performing any other function in your employer’s workplace.

A serious injury can mean multiple claims, against a third party if they are at fault, under the motor vehicle accident scheme, and under the workers’ compensation scheme. When you are involved in a car accident while driving for work, it is vital to seek legal advice as soon as possible. You may be entitled to compensation. Your employer should also not be able to fire you simply for being in a car accident in a company car, unless you were acting in a way that broke your contract and put your employer at risk. If you’ve been unjustly dismissed, you may have further claims.

Even if you are in financial straits, you can still contact Gerard Malouf & Partners; we are committed to the no-win, no-fee policy, and provide a written commitment that we will reduce our legal fees if you are not happy with the result of your compensation claim. Contact us about your driving for work accident claim today.

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Gerard Malouf & Partners
 — Personal Injury Compensation Lawyers

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